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50. Death of Jacob and Joseph

And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him. 2And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. 3And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days. 4And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, 5My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again. 6And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.

7And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. 9And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company. 10And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days. 11And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan. 12And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: 13For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.

14And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.

15And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. 16And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 17So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 18And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 19And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

22And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. 23And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees. 24And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

4. Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh. A brief narration is here inserted of the permission obtained for Joseph, that, with the goodwill and leave of the king, he might convey his father’s remains to the sepulcher of the double cave. Now, though he himself enjoyed no common decree of favor, he yet makes use of the courtiers as his intercessors. Why did he act thus, unless on the ground that the affair was in itself odious to the people? For nothing (as we have said before) was less tolerable to the Egyptians, than that their land, of the sanctity of which they made their especial boast, should be despised. Therefore Joseph, in order to transfer the offense from himself to another, pleads necessity: as if he would say, that the burying of his father was not left to his own choice, because Jacob had laid him under obligation as to the mode of doing it, by the imposition of an oath. Wherefore, we see that he was oppressed by servile fear, so that he did not dare frankly and boldly to profess his own faith; since he is compelled to act a part, in order to transfer to the deceased whatever odium might attend the transaction. Now, whereas a more simple and upright confession of faith is required of the sons of God, let none of us seek refuge under such pretexts: but rather let us learn to ask of the Lord the spirit of fortitude and constancy which shall direct us to bear our testimony to true religion. Yet if men allow us the free profession of religion, let us give thanks for it. Now, seeing that Joseph did not dare to move his foot, except by permission of the king, we infer hence, that he was bound by his splendid fortune, as by golden fetters. And truly, such is the condition of all who are advanced to honor and favor in royal courts; so that there is nothing better for men of sane mind, than to be content with a private condition. Joseph also mitigates the offense which he feared he was giving, by another circumstance, when he says, that the desire to be buried in the land of Canaan was not one which had recently entered into his father’s mind, because he had dug his grave there long before; whence it follows that he had not been induced to do so by any disgust taken against the land of Egypt.


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